Nowadays more and more women are entering the job market after completing a formal course of education. They are making their careers in different fields standing shoulder to shoulder to their male colleagues. In such a scenario to protect the rights of every female employee in the workplace the government has enacted the Maternity Benefit Act 1961.
In spite of this legislation working women like Rima were having an increasingly burdensome life trying to balance work and family giving equal priority to both. Having been a successful professional previously, Rima wished to continue working after her marriage. However once she became a mother she faced a lot of pressure from her in-laws to leave her job to take care of her baby. But Rima was determined to hold on to her hard earned success. She got maternity leave of three months (12 weeks) from her office as per the Maternity Benefit Act 1961. However when the time came to leave her infant son at home and rejoin work, Rima felt extremely guilty. She could not concentrate on her work as her heart was at home. Her productivity suffered as a result. While at work, she missed her son and worried about whether he was getting proper nutrition as she was unable to feed him regularly.
Till a few months back thousands of working moms used to go through the same anxiety like Rima. To alleviate their suffering, the government amended the Maternity Benefit Act in 2017. As per the new legislation, women in Rima’s position are now eligible for maternity leave of six and half months (26 weeks) instead of the earlier three months (12 weeks). This can be availed prior to 8 weeks from the date of delivery instead of 6 weeks which was the earlier regulation. Even after completion of the period of maternity leave employers can permit a woman employee to work from home if the nature of work permits her to do so and the same can be availed for a duration mutually decided upon. Some additional benefits that the amendment provides include the availability of creche facilities within a prescribed distance. This has to be provided by organizations having an employee strength of 50 or more and women employees should be allowed 4 visits a day to the creche. Finally at the time of appointment, all women employees have to be informed of the maternity benefits available to her, either in writing or electronically.
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